SEO? There’s an infinite number of website and social media gurus who can explain all the ins and outs of it. Google provides hints about its search-engine algorithms, but it seems like it changes them every week.
SEO means search engine optimization, a must-have strategy for any music business owner who is online and doesn’t want to get buried in the rankings.
Techtarget.com calls SEO “the science of improving a website to increase its visibility when people search for products or services. The more visibility a website has on search engines, the more likely it is that brand captures business. Safari Digital says 61% of marketers believe SEO is the key to online success and businesses with a marketing strategy allocate on average 41% of their budget to SEO.
Third, optimization is a process, not a one-and-done tactic. Just about everything having to do with online marketing is always changing, and SEO has to keep up to be effective.
Before we get to far into it, here’s a brief primer on search engine initialisms.
SEO involves website content and images and search engine algorithms. SEO is not to be confused with SEM, or search engine marketing, which is also called paid search or pay per click. Both are strategies for getting higher rankings on SERPs, or search engine results pages.
An example to illustrate the distinctions:
Google ”Music stores near me.” The ones at the top of the SERP are typically paid ads so they get the highest visibility. The SEO results—ranked in order by how well Google’s algorithms rate the websites’ content—follow the paid SEM listings.
SEO is not paid advertising, but it is an important business investment. If you do it yourself, it’s going to take time. If you hire an SEO consultant, you’ll save time but spend money.
Either way, here are five tips to get you going on your SEO way to better search results, more traffic to your website, and (theoretically) more sales. (Note: Google has 90% of the search engine market so, while there are other excellent search engines, we will use “Alphabet” as the example.)
If you sell saxophones, your website should mention “saxophones.”
Sounds simple. But if you overdo it by pasting your pages with “saxophone,” the Google algorithms will read that as “keyword stacking.” That is not a good. For all intents and purposes, your website will be banished to the back SERPs, and chances are nobody will ever find you again. There is a “sweet spot” for how many times to use a keyword—part of the search algorithm—for optimal results. The longer the post, the more times the keyword(s) can be used without raising red flags.
Of course, all of that changes every time Google changes its algorithms, and even if it didn’t change them, the whole thing is very complicated and written in incomprehensible jargon. It might be a good idea to invest in an expert or agency that specializes in SEO. The best way to find one is asked trusted business sources. There are a lot of fly-by-nighters—there emails probably clog your email inbox all the time—and they will take your money without living up to their bold promises. In contrast, a credible SEO professional relies on their reputation, reviews, referrals, and quantifiable results to make their case.
If you want to do it yourself, you will likely have to spend a fair amount of time researching which keywords to use and how often. There is a life hack you can try. Go to your competitors’ websites and see what they are doing. How do you know they’re successful? Do a Google search for the products or services you offer and see who comes up. Their SEO is probably good, which is why they appeared at the top of your search results. Visit those sites and look at what keywords they’re using and how often. SEO is not about reinventing the wheel—it’s about driving more visitors/customers to your website using tried-and-true results.
Write for People Not Ro(bots)
We just told you to target certain keywords, which means your 300-word product description may have the keyword “saxophone” in it three times. Normally, if you were talking to someone, you may say, The Yamaha YAS-480 Intermediate Alto Saxophone saxophone makes a great gift … and then later say it features hand-engraving … For SEO, you wouldn’t say “it,” you would say some iteration of the Yamaha YAS-480 Intermediate Alto Saxophone, either the full name or a distinct part of it, like YAS-480. Having said that, always write for your audience verses Google bots. If your content earns you better search results, you want the person searching to have a good experience when they review your content. If you write just with bots in mind, you’re going to turn off your readers and potential customers. Make your content interesting, concise, and relevant.
A good strategy is to first write your product description or blog article without editing. Then ask yourself these questions … Is the content compelling? Did I mention the features and benefits? Did I provide all the information needed for the reader to take the next step? Now, go back and count how many times you used the targeted keywords. Could an “it” be replaced with a keyword? If so, do it—but not too much! Google is watching …
Integrate Link Building
Google bots love links. In fact, some are called spiders because they crawl along the links to judge the relevance of the connected pages. This not only applies to external sites but internally as well, e.g., linking from content in your product description to a relevant blog story on your website. When you link to an external site, you can also approach that site and ask for back-linking—just like it sounds, that external site will link back to your website.
When using external links, be careful not to overdo it. You’ve spent a lot of time or money (more likely both) getting prospects to your site. Letting them link out of it could mean losing them. The idea is to give visitors useful resources that builds credibility, enhances your own content, and gives visitors a good reason to spend more time on your website.
What difference does a title header, body copy, subheads, and so on make? Exactly, you might say, what difference does it make? In SEO, they are distinct, identifiable elements that require metadata, and that is critical. It’s more technical but if you’re serious about your SEO, then it can’t be ignored. The good news is that if you’re using a website builder like WIX, the templates often assign the correct meta tags to the respective content.
For a quick and easy breakdown of how metadata works in regards to SEO, check out this Search Engine Watch article. (By the way, that’s an example of building a link to an authoritative website for SEO purposes.)
Update Content Regularly
Bots hate stale content. On the other hand, recent and appealing content get their attention. You might have to get on a waiting list to check a new book out from the library. After it’s been around for a while, the library may let you take it home and extend the return date ad infinitum. So, keep your website pages full of new content.
The more advanced next step would be to conduct an SEO audit. This is an involved process but important to do over time so your website, and business for that matter, doesn’t become another neglected book on the shelf. Semrush provides an article that walks you through the critical steps.
SEO is a critical consideration when building, developing, and maintaining your website. It significantly influences who and how many people find you through a search, so it must be mandatory in your online marketing strategy. The tips provided should help you get started. Even if you decide to outsource your SEO efforts, you should now have a better understanding of what’s required to optimize your marketing investment.